Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #8
Published by Del Rey on January 26th 2016
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 11 hrs 21 min
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Iron Druid Atticus O'Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne's epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire's heart.
When a druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he's bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It's time to make a stand.
As always, Atticus wouldn't mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it's not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki's mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won't come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.
I’m not kidding. Atticus, Granuiale and Owen are gifted stakes from the weapons maker in Tír na Óg and one touch of the stake anywhere on the vampire unbinds them into puddles of vamp goo. There is a great scene where vampires are all sitting around the start exploding and they are all freaking out because they can’t figure out what is happening meanwhile we know there is a camouflaged druid taking care of business.
Granuiale appeals to Odin to help remove the cloaking/tracking mark that Loki branded her with. While she wants to remove Loki’s mark, she knows that will open her up to divination once again. So she heads to Poland to find and speak to Melina’s coven of witches to see if they can provide her with a magical cloak. But nothing with witches comes free and they send her to find a magical horse which was captured and being hidden by Loki. An easy trade, get them the horse and they will devise a cloak for her.
Owen is busy with his girlfriend Getta creating his Grove of apprentices to teach a new generation of druids. It is a wonderful display watching the children learn basic druidism and the first time they connect with the elementals. The problem comes when enemies of Atticus who can’t devine the Iron Druid but they can locate Owen and his apprentices. The Grove might have the protection of Tuath Dí Danann and the werewolf pack but that doesn’t mean that he and his students are safe.
Meanwhile Atticus has come up with an interesting trap for Verner Drasher and goes off to see if he can finally get rid of him for good.
Problems with the vampires have hit a critical point and Atticus makes a deal with the devil…well, not the real devil but close. They are no longer friends but Leif Helgerson is “the devil you know” and they make a deal, if Leif helps Atticus find Theophalis and if Atticus can destroy him, Leif can step in as the oldest vampire and strike a deal for peace between the vamps and the druids. That is a lot of “ifs.”
I typed this from my audiobook so, once again, spelling doesn’t count.
The Hammers of God who tried to kill Atticus in the second story, are now working with him to take out the vampires.
The Hammers of God started to chant and move in ritualistic sequence. We didn’t see all of it very well since we were above and behind them to the left, but we had an excellent view of the three warded buildings. I was watching them more than the cabalists to see what sort of reaction they provoked. Part of me wanted to watch in the magical spectrum, but I didn’t want to waste the energy. Within a minute of the Hammers chanting, a couple of windows in the building flew open and pale, white clad men with tonsures leaned out to lay eyes on the cabalists. They watched for a moment and withdrew, closing the shudders behind them.
“Okay. They are aware of the Hammers. Response should come soon.”
Two men appeared on the rooftop garden of the terracotta building and pointed guns down at the Hammers of God. They had large bulky silencers, or mufflers, or whatever, screwed on to the end of the barrels. I’m not a munitions expert. They popped off a few rounds which ricocheted off the Hammer’s kinetic ward, taking out a window to the north in one case, but otherwise embedding themselves in the ancient brink and plaster of the buildings surrounding the piazza.
The cabalists continued to do whatever they were doing and remarkably so did the sparse dozen or so tourists in the piazza, who gave no sign that they had heard gun fire. The would-be assassins looked at each other and shrugged. The one held a finger to his earpiece and spoke. Obviously reporting to someone via bluetooth that guns weren’t going to work. They disappeared after a moment.
“Okay. We’re going to get a different sort of attack next,” I said.
That’s when it began to snow in Rome. Big fat snowflakes, eager to blanket the Eternal City and paralyze it. Tonsured men of assorted backgrounds dressed in the billowy white clothing Owen had described, with an orange sash crossing from their right shoulders to their left hips, streamed out of the three buildings. They were heading for a spot opposite the Hammers of God, presumably to form their own Tree of Life.
Seeing this, the Hammers of God formation flattened into two lines, staggered so that the line in back could see between the shoulders of the front line, and then in sync, they drew silver knives out of their coats and threw them at a single target. Some missed, but most didn’t. The targeted man went down, with seven knives buried in his torso, and one in his throat.
“Holy shite!” Owen said. “Why did they go after that one?”
“Align yourself with the forces of Hell, and you’re fair game in their eyes,” I said.
“No. I mean why that one particular man?”
I shrugged. “Random target of opportunity. It was smart because they disrupted their formation before it got started. The Hammers didn’t want them to get their own kinetic ward, or anything else going. They need ten dudes to do anything major.”
“Well, I think they have ten anyway,” Granuaile said. “Another one just appeared. Yep, that’s ten. They might have more waiting.”
“Ah, damn.” The Hammers didn’t have additional guys in reserve. If one or more of them went down, they could maintain what they had already cast, but not do anything in addition. Their strength in formation was impressive, but their weakness was needing to maintain that formation. Their Cloak of Indifference or whatever they were using to distract passersby worked astoundingly well. A woman in heels clicked across the Piazza, right by the body of the dead cabalist, who was an obvious murder victim and could not be mistaken for a sleeping vagrant, and walked into Dolce & Gabbana as if she’d seen nothing amiss. I wondered what it’s range was because while Granuaile and I had the protection of cold iron, Owen did not, and he had clearly had seen that man sprout steel in his body and go down.
The hermetic cabalists began their own chanting and synchronized moves. But the Hammers of God wanted to disrupt them before they completed anything. So Rabbi Yosef Bialic’s beard got unleashed like some hairy nightmare elder god, puffing and expanding and then twisting into thick tentacles, three on either side of his chin. They began to stretch out for the point man of the other formation, and Granuaile gasped while Owen pointed a shaky finger at him.
“What kind of extra special bat shite is that right there? Gods below, Siodhachan, if Brigid was here I’d tell her to kill it with fire.”
“Heh-heh. Told you.”
“I’m gonna have nightmares.” And he pawed at his face. “I need a shave.”
The hermetic cabalists had a response to the hairy cables coming his way. His tonsure came alive in much the same way and a halo of tentacles formed around his skull before rushing to meet the Rabbi’s.
“Oh, yuck,” Granuaile said.
The two sets of hairy ropes met in the middle, struggled to get past each other, failed, then entwined and tore at the enemy in an attempt to pull the other out of formation.
“Are you kidding? This is awesome,” I said.
“Since I’ve become a druid, I’ve seen some pretty weird shit, Atticus,” Granuaile said, “But Beardy Baggins there squaring off against Squidhead McGee in the snow might be the weirdest.”